Taylor Sledge is one of the group of young, aggressive entrepreneurs who are passionately working to build businesses and create jobs in Mississippi.
As Chairman and owner of Sledge & Company, Taylor has built a successful business in the financial services sector. He started the business eight years ago, when he was just 22, and today, the business has clients in 17 states, with seven employees on board.
“My first six months were definitely tough,” he recalled. “But I had a passion for owning and operating a successful business of my own, and I didn’t give up, and I didn’t look back.”
Born in Flowood, he graduated from the University of Mississippi with a degree in English, and considers himself a true Mississippian.
“However, I have traveled all over the world,” he said. “My mother was a flight attendant, so we got to go and see lots of places. I suppose you’d say that helped me to learn a lot about connecting with all kinds of people and cultures, and that perspective has really helped me in business.”
He got some great mentoring from his grandfather and parents, and he never imagined the possibility that he wouldn’t be successful.
“For me, it’s all about having a great team that is committed to meeting the needs of our clients,” he said. “And I’m fortunate to have some great folks working with me on our team.”
What does he like most about doing business in Mississippi?
“Mississippi feels more like a club than a state,” he said. “I love that people here really do care about one another, and we operate almost more as a big family than anything else.”
Asked how he built his business from a marketing perspective, Taylor said that “it’s all about networking, and building great relationships. That is especially true in our business.”
He’s a firm believer that anyone who works hard and stays committed can build some level of wealth, but believes it’s important for folks to get started early in life.
“I never met anyone who said ‘I wish I hadn’t saved all that money.’” he said. “It’s really vital that people learn to create more than they consume.”
Given the dismal numbers about the lack of assets among a significant number of retiring baby boomers, he certainly has a point.
“I think that what will define ‘retirement’ in the future will be very different than how that term is applied today,” he said. “People are living longer today, they have more vitality. Retirement may come to mean that people won’t stop working, but that they’ll simply work less.” He thinks this will be “much more fulfilling” for most folks than simply “sitting around” in retirement.
For Taylor, the key is in managing assets wisely, understanding what your options are, planning for tax liabilities, and working with a trusted counselor.
What does he find challenging about doing business in Mississippi and other states?
“We all know that Mississippi has some stigmas associated with it,” he said. “I run into those kinds of attitudes when I’m dealing with clients outside the states, but I consider myself as an ambassador for our state.”
He suggested that “sometimes, we don’t take ourselves seriously enough, and I’d love for the world to know how economically attractive Mississippi really is.”
He sees a number of uncertainties coming down the pike, including the impact of health care costs, the health of Social Security and Medicare, and other concerns.
“That’s why we all need to be proactive in taking control of our finances, and manage them in ways that are best for ourselves and our families,” he said.
Asked what his advice might be for up-and-coming entrepreneurs, he said that two things are absolutely essential.
“First, you need to find a great mentor that you can trust, and then take their advice seriously. Second, there is absolutely no substitution for a great work ethic. There is a Latin phrase that translates ‘work conquers all’, and it really does hit the mark,” he said.
» Contact Mississippi Business Journal publisher Alan Turner at firstname.lastname@example.org or (601) 364-1021.